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How To Check RAM Usage on Ubuntu

Check RAM Usage on Ubuntu

Monitoring RAM usage on Ubuntu is crucial for maintaining optimal system performance and ensuring that your applications run smoothly. Ubuntu provides several tools and commands to check RAM usage, both through the command line and GUI. This comprehensive guide will explore various methods to monitor RAM usage on Ubuntu, offering step-by-step instructions and insights into each tool‘s unique features.

Checking RAM Usage with Command Line

Using free

The free command is a quick and simple way to view memory usage statistics. It shows the total, used, and free amounts of physical memory and swap space, along with buffer and cache usage.

To check memory usage with free, open a terminal and enter:

free -h

The -h option provides human-readable output, making it easier to interpret the results. For continuous monitoring, you can use:

free -m -s 2

This command refreshes the output every two seconds, displaying the results in megabytes.

Using top

The top command offers a dynamic, real-time view of system processes and their memory consumption. To use top, simply type:


in the terminal. You can sort processes by memory usage by pressing Shift + > until the %MEM column is highlighted.

Using htop

htop is an interactive process viewer that provides a more user-friendly interface than top. If not already installed, you can install it with:

sudo apt install htop

Then, run it by typing htop in the terminal. You can navigate through the list of processes and perform actions such as killing or renicing processes without needing to know their PIDs.

Check RAM Usage on Ubuntu

Using vmstat

vmstat reports on virtual memory statistics. To use vmstat, enter:

vmstat -s

This will display detailed memory statistics, including swap usage and system activity.

Using smem

smem provides detailed memory usage reports, focusing on the proportional set size (PSS), which can give a more accurate representation of the memory used by processes. Install smem with:

sudo apt install smem

and run it by typing smem in the terminal.

Checking RAM Usage via GUI Tools

GNOME System Monitor

For a graphical approach, the GNOME System Monitor displays system resources, including memory usage. Open it by searching for “System Monitor” in the applications menu or by running gnome-system-monitor from the terminal.


Glances is a comprehensive system monitoring tool that can be installed with:

sudo apt install glances

Run it by typing glances in the terminal to view an overview of system resources, including RAM usage.


Nmon is another monitoring tool that provides information on various system resources. Install it with:

sudo apt install nmon

and start it by typing nmon. Press ‘m’ to switch to the memory statistics view.

Using the System Monitor to Check RAM Usage

The System Monitor displays the system’s resources in several tabs. The ‘Resources’ tab shows the RAM usage.

  1. Open the System Monitor.
  2. Click on the ‘Resources’ tab.

The ‘Memory’ section displays a graph of the memory usage over time. Below the graph, it shows the total, used, and free memory, as well as the available swap.


Whether you prefer command line tools or GUI applications, Ubuntu offers a variety of options for monitoring RAM usage. Regular checks can help you maintain an efficient and stable system, troubleshoot issues, and plan for upgrades when necessary. By following the detailed steps provided, you can effectively manage your system’s memory and ensure it is being used to its full potential.


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to idroot.us, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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